House committee trims $253 million from DOD IT budget

The House Armed Services Committee today stuck to the recommendations of one of its subcommittees by approving a cut of $253 million from the Defense Department's $30 billion fiscal 2006 IT budget request.

The full committee passed the IT portion of the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act; it expects to finish marking up the rest of the bill sometime late tonight. After the legislation is approved, it will go to the House floor for a full vote.

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the bill last week, and the full Senate will vote on the legislation next week.

Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, which shepherded the IT budget through the process, said the reduction was less draconian than the billions in IT cuts it has previously imposed.

The IT cuts are targeted at programs that include the Business Management Modernization Program, IT rapid acquisition and human resources systems, Saxton said.

Technology has become integral and expanded to almost all essential aspects of national security, Saxton said. Whether it is weapons, future combat or business systems, "IT makes it all work. Without the business systems that IT helps us provide today, we would have to maintain a must larger workforce than we do today," he added.

During the last three years the subcommittee has tried to better manage DOD's IT and weed out unnecessary costs, he said.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the full Armed Services panel, said, "The committee is taking a clear policy position intended to force a number of programs to be re-evaluated with a new set of metrics while rethinking how we design, develop and field next generation systems."

Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) proposed an amendment that would encourage Congress to have more transparency about what contracts vendors are responsible for and how much money has been spent on them. The amendment, which failed, was introduced as a result of a report from the Government Accountability Office on problems in DOD's business systems modernization program.

Saxton said the committee already has access to that information.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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